5 tips for building an SEO keyword strategy

By Chris Ching on July 02, 2018

  • #SEO
  • #Development

Getting quality organic traffic to your website relies heavily on building a solid keyword plan. Yes, there are other major factors like quality of content, page speed, proper meta, mobile friendly, but we’re here to talk purely about keywords.

Start with your top competitors

Do a Google Search for your product, service, or maybe it’s a particular article. See what links that show up in the top 10 search engine results page (SERPS). If you want to go crazy, you can do 20. What are the keywords that show up in their meta titles and descriptions? You’ll want to capture those keywords into an excel or csv list. Next, access an SEO auditing tool like SEM Rush, or Moz Pro. There’s thousands of SEO tools out there, but my favorite is SEM Rush. Search for those top 10 sites in the domain overview, and you’ll suddenly get massive lists of keywords that are driving to those sites. Everything from monthly volumes, to percentage of traffic, cost per click (CPC), competitiveness of those keywords is shown. I like to sort the lists by rank, volume, and percentage of traffic. This gives you an amazing overview of the keyword performance. You’ll see most of their top keywords are brand terms, so ignore those. Focus on the ones that drive volume. If you sell a product, then look for keywords that feel closer down the funnel for intent to purchase. If it’s a service, you’ll want to hone in on the problem you’re trying to solve. Add these keywords to a position tracking list in your auditing tool and see where you stand.

Monitor the keywords that already drive to your site

Google Search Console and Google Analytics go together like peanut butter and jam. In console you get a really great dashboard for your search appearance. You also get a full list (in Google Analytics as well) of keywords that drove clicks to your website. GA will often lists your top keyword as (not provided), so it does require a work-around. If you’re only ranking for branded terms, it’s not uncommon, but that can be good and bad. Good that people know your business name, and bad that that’s the only way you’re being found. The ones that aren’t branded, add that to your list of keywords. Using a keyword planning tool, like Google Adwords, you can build ideas around similar keywords that may offer you higher volume.

Add a scalable mix of competition and volume

If your product or service has a focused niche, low volume keywords may not be a bad thing. How low are we talking? It could be as little as 50 if your offering is expensive, or is location based. This is simply because the core audience is very small, but they may be more likely to convert. This is where you have to put your marketing cap on and understand where in the funnel would these keywords exist? Awareness, education, consideration, or purchase? You’ll want to essentially map that to your user journey. Primary pages are likely to have more awareness, education focused keywords, while product pages and lead magnet landing pages are should be sales focused. On the awareness and education level, we’re probably going to see more high volume searches. Even better if their low competition. If you’re already in the top 10 for hundreds or thousands of high competition keywords, then you have a good chance to rank for those fairly quickly.

Add modifiers to your long tail keywords

According to statista, 63% of all searches are two words or more, and 42% are three words or more. These are your long tail keywords, and should be most of your focus. Long tail is to short tail as mobile is to desktop. See what I did there? Many people search with modifiers, because it helps them narrow down their searches. These keywords can be verbs, adjectives, and nouns. If your business has physical locations then including location based modifiers is key.

For example: ‘Best Pizza Norwalk CT’

This is certainly someone who’s ready to get down on some pizza.

Paid Search Terms

For those that are already running paid search campaigns, then this one seems pretty obvious, but is often underutilized. Within your paid search reports, check for the terms that have gotten the best click-through rates and conversions. In Google AdWords, you can also see the actual search queries that served up your ads. You can draw some pretty powerful insights from the search queries, as you’re literally being put in the mind of the consumer. This is also a great way to build a content strategy for your blog. If your content offers solutions to the problems people are searching for, you may find yourself a new customer.